Health in South Africa is best understood within a historical context of health inequalities and a quadruple disease burden. With a small, unaffordable, but highly skilled private healthcare sector and a large public healthcare system that functions according to a primary healthcare philosophy, we need to strengthen health promotion for citizens to have more control over their own health. Health promotion is a dynamic process to enable people to have more control over and improve their health. This implies focusing on individual behaviour, health promotion action areas, and the social determinants of health.

At the Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR) we support a community-based participatory approach to health promotion, being in communities and adhering to the principles of sustainable community development. We acknowledge that changing human behaviour is complex, but it is also the tipping point towards preventative care.


Our team

Prof Petra Bester - Researcher

Prof Lanthé Kruger - Researcher

Dr Christi Niesing - Researcher

Mrs Karlien van Schalkwyk – Researcher


Current research projects

The following titles of current and recently completed projects give an overview of typical research conducted within the health promotion team, which is clustered into the five action areas of health promotion:


Building healthy public policy

Healthcare workers’ perspectives on the barriers and enablers in health promotion human resources.                                      

Strengthening antimicrobial stewardship in public hospitals in the North-West province: An interpretive description.

Creating supportive environments Valuation of ecosystem services and disservices at health clinic gardens in South Africa.
Strengthening community action

Fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events in a selected group of South Africans.

Cross-sectional comparisons of violence and injuries among adults in a rural and an urban community, South Africa.

Developing personal skills

Mental health literacy and information sources of hospitalised mental healthcare users with mood disorders.

Empowering patients with hypertension in a public health system towards enhanced self-care through psycho-education.

Reorient healthcare services toward prevention of illness and promotion of health

Most appropriate information communication technology for health education in HIV management in rural communities: a systematic review.


Study with us

AUTHeR presents the MHSc in Transdisciplinary Health Promotion. We acknowledge that health promotion implies all spheres of life and business and therefore students learn how to go beyond their disciplinary boundaries to work in transdisciplinary teams to understand complex, and especially community-based, health challenges. Students are also equipped to understand different theories, models and frameworks of human behaviour and the process of developing health promotion programmes, as well as monitoring and evaluating such programmes. We also offer the first PhD in Transdisciplinary Health Sciences, a flagship programme designed to enable candidates to assume leadership in transdisciplinary teams, and to become skilled in the assimilation and dissemination of health information to various target audiences.


Additional resources & -links (Click here)


For further information contact Prof Petra Bester.